Hannover 1 – 0 Nürnberg: Narrow win for the 96’ers in a scrappy match

Slomka’s men manage to win their first match since they beat Bayern Munich three months ago.

Both Hannover and Nürnberg were desparte for a win going into Friday night’s clash at the AWD Arena. Hannover needed to keep up with the teams in front of them in the European places, and Nürnberg to shave off relegation. Both teams have so far this season struggled to find the back of the net. Hannover have scored a total of 20 goals, while Nürnberg only managed to tuck away the ball 19 times.

A number of stats outline the two teams problems so far this season: Nürnberg have 12 different goalscorers, but none of them have managed to get more than 4 goals. The last 10 goals the team has scored came all from different goal scorers. However, the team did manage to win their last two games with a 5-0 goal difference in total, and seemed to have fixed some of their problems in attack in the previous weeks. Hannover on the other hand have scored 11 goals coming from the right hand side, and only three coming from the left hand side. Furthermore, Slomka’s men are the team scoring the least amount of goals from open play in the Bundesliga.

However, some stats suggested that this game might bring the viewers in front of the TV and the audience at the AWD Arena some entertaining moments: Nürnberg have scored 1.6 goals against Hannover on average, their highest average against any current Bundesliga team. The previous 31 meetings have never ended in a goalless draw.

Line-ups:

Hannover 96: Zieler – Cherundolo, Eggimann, Pogatetz, Pander – Stindl, Schmiedebach, Pinto(Chahed 90’+3), Rausch – Schlaudraff(Stoppelkamp 84’), Abdellaoue(Sobiech 89’)

1. FC Nürnberg: Schäfer – Feulner, Maroh, Wollscheid, Hlousek ­– Cohen(Pekhart 46’), Simons – Didavi, Hegeler – Eigler(Bunjaku 73’), Esswein(Frantz 82’)

First half: Hannover rewarded for their domination

Mirko Slomka chose his usual tactical set-up, a 4-4-2 formation that was lurking for counter attacks. Striker Jan Schlaudraff was mobile, often drifting out to the left and the right to help with the build up play, while Moa Abdellaoue was trying to time his runs into the box perfectly to create chances for the Lower Saxons. Nürnberg kept their 4-2-2-2 formation from last weekend, instead of the often preferred 4-1-4-1 formation that Hecking used to great effect last season.

The first half started promising with Nürnberg putting together the first attack just after the kick off. After long series of passes was put into the box by ”Der Club” the ball was cleared by Emanuel Pogatetz, however his clearance was picked up Cohen who fired the ball over the goal. After this promising start the game cooled off immediately. Hannover kept hold of the ball most of the time, but had troubles converting their possession into chances. Nürnberg were on the other hand content to just defend their goal.

Hannover managed to create their first chance on goal after a corner kick from the left hand side from Lars Stindl. After his delivery had slipped through the defense, Hannover’s Abdellaoue suddenly found himself alone 5 meters in front of goal. However, after the striker managed to take down the ball really well, the Norwegian had to finish with his weaker right foot and only managed to put the ball just above the cross bar. It is no surprise that 7 of the Oslo native’s 9 goals have come with his left foot.

Sergio Pinto went for broke with a shot from over 30 meters two minutes afterwards and forced an excellent save by Nürnberg keeper Raphael Schäfer who managed to steer the ball around the post from the right bottom corner of his goal. Hannover kept pushing Nürnberg and finally managed to create their first decent attack out of open play after 18 minutes: Sergio Pinto found Lars Stindl with a lovely cross over pass from the half way line. The former Karlsruhe man didn’t hesitate and crossed the ball into the box with his second touch, were he found Moa Abdellaoue who finished off the move with a lovely touch with his stronger left foot. The Norwegian’s 10th goal of the season was the 8th goal he had scored at the AWD Arena so far this season.

Hannover continued to dominate the first half, but failed to create chances. First in the 42nd minute came the next chance of the game, when Jan Schlaudraff and Manuel Schmiedbach managed to combine beautifully giving Schlaudraff the chance to shoot from a narrow angle from the left hand side. ”Der Club” goalkeeper Schäfer kept his cool and saved the ball from a short distance.

The shot statistic of the match clearly shows that both teams failed to create many chances.

Second half: Nürnberg the better side in a scrappy second half

Midfielder Almog Cohen was subbed off at the beginning of the second half, and replaced by striker Tomás Pekhart. Alexander Esswein was from then on drifting more out wide to the left wing, making Pekart and Christian Eigler the striking partnership on the top for Nürnberg. This move by Dieter Hecking yielded results. In the first half Nürnberg failed to control a number of long balls, but in the second half Pekhart managed to give ”Der Club” some firepower in the air, and more of an presence in the box. The Czech striker got his first chance after 55 minutes. After an excellent cross into the five yard box, the tall striker managed to get his head at the end of the cross, forcing a brilliant foot reflax from Ron-Robert Zieler to keep him out.

Nürnberg outran Hannover by almost 8 kilometers. However, The Reds saved much energy by being well organized in defense.

The Franconians managed to control most of the game in the second, but failed to created chances. A number of nigly fouls were committed in the second half, prompting referee Marko Fritz to hand out 5 yellow cards. Nürnberg had their second big chance of the half from a free kick from 21 meters. Daniel Didavi effort was decent, but went inches over the cross bar. The midfielder should in the end be the tragic figure who denied his team a point from this game! Five minutes later Czech left back Hlousek brought in his first good free kick of the game into the box from the right hand side, finding Jens Hegeler who took the ball directly. Ron-Robert Zieler looked beat, but Didavi came rushing towards the ball, in the end getting in the way of Hegeler’s shot, denying his team mate what surely would have been the equalizer.

Conclusion: Both coaches with plenty of work ahead of them
A pretty anemic game in terms of chances saw in the end Hannover clinching a vital win. Both teams had few chances, and a draw would have probably been a more just result in the end. Moa Abdellaoue proved once more how important he is to this Hannover side: From two chances and only 24 touches to the ball, he managed to get the all important goal that gave Hannover the three points. Slomka’s men often times failed to convert their possession into decent counter attacks. The prescission in the passing game wasn’t there at vital stages of the game. Sergio Pinto is still doing a heroic job in defense, but isn’t managing to iniatiate counter attacks like he did last season.

Sergio Pinto struggles to live up to his excellent performances from last year. He misplaced 15 out of 28 passes tonight.

Nürnberg had a stable defense for most of the game, due to the excellent performances of Phillip Wollscheid and Timmy Simons. Both players managed to keep clean up what came their way. However, Nürnberg lacks passing accuaracy in the final third, and didn’t manage to create as many chances as they should have had in the second half. Hecking’s team are facing Dortmund, Augsburg and Köln in the next three matches. If the team manages to get through these matches gathering a decent amount of points, Nürnberg can slowly start to look towards higher positions that would take the team out of the relegation battle.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 30-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball and on the @AufstiegPod.

2 Comments

  1. Agree with Ansger here. I think this was important in order to end a 96-days lasting period of draws and losses, so the psychology is important, as well as getting closer to Leverkusen and Werder again (and pulling away from the clubs behind us). That’s why I am not too disappointed, even though it was not a great game. Not everybody can be a Bayern or Borussia all of the time 😉

  2. Maybe a little bit unfair to critisise Pinto that much. Okay, it wasn’t his best game, but he, like many others, has just been back from injury and is not back to his full strength. Plus, he had those matches all season, where his passing was poor, but on the other hand tackling and shooting were better. Maybe not shooting tonight, but he certainly put in a fight tonight.
    Overall, maybe the most important game for us in the last months. Vital points, a clean sheet and a win.

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